I now understand what WOW means, I’m not gonna tell you because its better if you find out yourself, but what I will say is it’s amazing but you could probably have guessed that so if you’re still reading I’ll tell you about today….Me and Eelus got in a jeep and went to a school in a remote village (Makumbaya) where we were greeted by hundreds and hundreds of children just going absolutely BONKERS! Its hard to overstate how happy these kids were; Everyone asking ‘hello’, ‘what’s your name?’, ‘how are you?’ and shaking our hand, it was really good . Anyway, it pans out that I end up painting a quick map of the Gambia on the school wall but I only had a text book from the 90s to copy the river and with the assistance of the teachers we managed to get a rough renditon of the map on the wall whilst demonstrating how art is brilliant and can be fun. But…. I only had a few colours and only had a fat cap, one that sprays paint fast in a thick line, the kind I like using when im drunk in the dark, the kind I use when I don’t want to do something that hundreds of kids will use as reference for exams and generaly conversations about their home land…have alook at a map of the gambia …theres very long names…the teachers dictated them to me it was a bit like Countdown or Scrabble, but with spraycans and geography. This was a very rough map that I’d painted on the exterior wall of the school, I did it quick while my skin boiled in the sun but I got a few things wrong as you would anyway. The tributarys of the river are called bolongs and I ended up asking where does this bolong belong anyway..blaa blaaaa you had to be ther it was very funny. I said to the teacher as I left I learned a lot today. I learned how to paint small letters and long words with a fat cap and that for every bad dirty fat cap tag I did when I was 14 I got all my karma today and it was fucking brilliant.
Big day yesterday. All the artists arrived into The Gambia safe and sound, all the artists apart from Ben Eine that is, who not only chose not to come, chose to tell us he wasn’t coming the day he should have been here. Big shame.
Anyway, moving on, there is an excitement in the air here, and a calm before the storm. Tomorrow we’ll all travel by boat down to Kubuneh Village for the first time and begin work. The African sun, brutal and unforgiving, will certainly take it’s toll on everyone out there, water and shade will be close allies for the next fortnight.
I’m itching to see the beginnings of what has been a years worth of planning and excitement. Not long now till the sound of spray cans shaking and the site of brush strokes and stencils.
So expect to start seeing some photos of the official beginning of Wide Open Walls at some point tomorrow.
Onwards and upwards!
I stepped from the plane onto blistering hot Gambian soil yesterday afternoon and was met by Lawrence and his team and given VIP treatment from the word go. Waiting for my luggage to be brought TO ME in an air conditioned room with an ice cold glass of water was a nice change from fighting it out around the luggage carousel with the rest of the hot and tired travellers.
As I write this, I’m surrounded by lush mangrove swamp; roots and dense foliage keep hidden the beasts and creature that lurk beyond. A heron glides lazily overhead as the sound of something unseen breaks the water. The alien dawn chorus was amazing, the highlight being joined by a pair of toxic green birds, small and inquisitive, bold and unfazed by their new guest standing only feet away. Their crisp digital welcome seeming almost out of place in such an organic, analogue world.
Just heard my first Baboon disagreement, but am yet to catch a glimpse of the little bastards. I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m cornered and mugged for whatever savoury treats I’m carrying. Maybe I should arm myself? What would be the best weapon against a surprise baboon mugging?! I shall remain vigilante.
‘Tis only day 2, but I’m happy to report that so far, I remain unbitten and itch free. The 95% DEET makes my skin buzz and crackle with military grade toxins. Come on you little swines, come and get me.
Below is a view from my room. I’m sure you’ll agree, it aint bad at all.